Building a visually stunning website is not enough to ensure any success for your online presence. “Build it, and they will come” is not the way things work online.
To reach your target market, you must make your site search engine-friendly. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the process of increasing visibility on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.
Regardless of what method you use you build your site (see this link for our preferred methods), there are always things you can do to ensure that your site design and content complies with the conventions of search engines.
Here is a list of five tips on how to create an SEO friendly website:
1. Make your URL structure “SEO friendly”
A URL needs to be meaningful to search engines. Search engines don’t generally use human beings to index websites – they use automated processes (known as spiders) to do so. It therefore helps to make sure your content makes sense to these spiders, starting with your URL structure.
Some people immediately disadvantage themselves on this score by using a Content Management System such as WordPress and leaving URL generation on the default settings.
Here’s an example:
By default, WordPress will generate URLs like this:
As you can see, this makes little sense, and tells neither humans nor Web search spiders what the content is about. This is a better URL:
The first link is a dynamic URL; not only is it unfriendly to search engines but to users as well. The second link is static and more user-friendly since we can easily figure out what the page is about – and so will Google.
It’s actually really easy to make WordPress generate friendly URLs instead of dynamic ones. You will find the settings in WordPress under “Settings” then “Permalinks.”
2. Think about your keywords
Keywords are an integral part of any SEO campaign. If you fail to include relevant keywords in your content, Google may never find it – however good it is.
The Google Adwords Keyword Tool is a good place to start when researching keywords. You can use it to get an idea of how many people search for different phrases, and how hot the competition is to get ranked for them.
Once you have ascertained the keywords you wish to target, conventional wisdom is to include them in your posts and pages in the following areas:
- Page titles
- Sub headings
- The main body of your copy
- Your URLs
- Image filenames and “ALT” text
Obviously Google (and the other search engines) don’t ever reveal how their algorithms work. If they did, it would be too easy for people to unfairly manipulate them.
The current school of thought is that Google’s algorithm is sufficiently sophisticated to distinguish between genuine, quality copy, and keyword-stuffed bulk content. So don’t go crazy with including keywords – try instead to write unique, high quality copy, with keywords incorporated naturally but not excessively.
3. Optimise images
People often concentrate too much on text content when working on SEO, but forget about their images. However, it seems that the likes of Google do pay considerable attention to images when determining search engine positions.
Here are a few tips:
- Keep your file sizes small – you can use an image editor like Photoshop to reduce the size of your images (usually by reducing the quality or dimensions). This will reduce your site loading times and make your website experience more optimal for readers. As we said above, details of search engine algorithms are not made public, but the fact that Google mention “site health” on their AdSense dashboard certainly seems to indicate that site performance plays a part.
- Remember the importance of alternative (alt) text, which allows you to include a keyword in the description of the image. This helps search engine spiders determine the content of images. Alt text is also vital for the visually impaired, as screen reading software will read the alt text to help them understand the page content.
- Make sure your images are relevant to the surrounding text content.
4. Create an XML sitemap
An XML sitemap isn’t the same as the HTML sitemap we see on some sites that can help readers with navigation.
An XML sitemap is a structured list of URLs intended for search engines, to help them find all your posts and pages and index them more easily.
If you are using WordPress, you can easily add an XML site map with one of these two popular plugins:
5. Integrate social media
Current indications are that the likes of Google and Bing now give far more importance to the authority of your site on social media. If your content is shared by more people, it is an indication that you have something of value to give your site visitors.
So, add social sharing buttons to your posts and pages and urge visitors to share the content if they enjoyed reading it. If you are using a CMS like WordPress, this can be achieved by installing a social sharing plugin with a few clicks of the mouse button.
Finally, don’t forget Google Plus. It may not be the most popular social platform around, but many experts believe that Google pay considerable attention to it – so make sure your readers have a chance to add a “plus one” to content they enjoy.
Image source: www.reyamisocial.com